Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Instructive Reading

Read this nice article on the virtues of reading seriously ill-written books. The author argues for persisting with reading a novel so bad that after 10 minutes' reading it's almost impossible not to fire it across the room like a 112-page Howitzer shell.

I recognize that feeling and have almost always given up past page 50 with books that unbearable. I have a couple of acquaintances who have published their work - one through a vanity press and the other through a slightly mainstream publisher. Both works were years in the making and finally did see light of day. One of these authors described the process from concept to publication as a five year gestation.

I received a complimentary copy of each book. The vanity press number was a volume of poems - a mix of good and mediocre but readable enough even if not worth revisiting. The other one was a work of autobiographical fiction and an amazingly tedious read. Needless to say, I never made it past page ten. I wondered what made it so impossible to read or like. I think I may have found an answer now :

It clearly believes itself a masterpiece of poetic prose (as the jacket claims), when in point of fact it reads like the frenzied scribblings of someone slowly choking on their own self-indulgence.

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